Columbia Crest 2007 Grand Estates syrah

On this day back in 1848, James Wilson Marshall discovered some shiny flecks in a channel bed at Sutter’s Mill, which started the California Gold Rush and within three years, California became the 31st State of the Union. This event should not be confused with the discovery of “gold flecks” on the fingers of Sean-Paul Gregullivan that is then left on tasting room wine glasses. TR managers, you have been warned! An 18 year-old Monroe woman took umbrage at a drinking party when a 19 year-old man teased her about her stinky feet and stabbed him. In addition to 15 months of prison time, the judge also ordered her to write a research paper on the effects of excessive alcohol ingestion on the destruction of lives. This is the same judge that mistakenly sentenced a “national journalist” to retake a sixth-grade English writing class, only to find out they don’t offer English classes…in Canada. Who knew, eh? A 22 year-old NY man may have hit a stroke of luck while in Vegas after he bargained with an escort to drop her $200 fee for a hand job down to $120. He claimed to be unaware that it was illegal to pay for sex in Sin City and filed a $1.8 million civil rights lawsuit against the escort service, citing “mental distress.” Hmm, this gives me an idea… Babs’ queef destroyed my laptop recently, and without her usual warning of “I smell popcorn!,” so perhaps I should litigate and claim “mental distress, secondary to nasal distress.” And let’s end on this happy note: a 44 year-old topless Illinois woman was arrested at a Red Roof Inn parking lot and pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon without proper ownership identification. The cops were tipped off when a passerby noticed a van rocking and looked through the window, only to have a 9mm gun pointed at him. And, I thought the “weapon” was a clear, rigid feminine pleasure device…

Bartell Drugs, one of the last drugstore chains to hold out from selling alcoholic beverages due to potential “image” problems, gave in to those easy profits and trialed the sale of wine at a few of their stores, notably in “lower income” areas. The test proved so successful that they rolled out the sales to all of their stores in the Puget Sound area. On a recent pass-through in one of their stores, I analyzed the collection of value wines and concurred that they house a favorable ratio of Washington wines and at some very competitive prices. Probably the best value was the $7.99 marker for the Columbia Crest Grand Estates lineup. There’s not a lower price to be found for this wonderful lineup of 3rd tier wines from Ray Einberger’s stable. If you like your wines in the single-digit dollar category, then go ahead and add BD to your destinations list.

What makes this particular bottle stand out for the price are the following: (1) vintage year—2007 is one of the arguably two best vintages of the last decade; (2) producer—who doesn’t know Columbia Crest and its top ranking in a major rag just over a year ago?; and (3) the varietal—uh yeah, Washington is better known for its pinot blanc. Hello, there is no pinot blanc commercially grown in Washington State.

On the dish was a plethora of upscale goodies to nosh on: Raclette salami, Cambozola cheese, Kraft nuclear orange American Singles, Beechers Smoked Flagship, Club crackers, and Freschetta sausage pizza. The best pairings were with the Beechers Smoked Flagship, salami, and pizza. Syrah and spicy proteins equal excellence on the tongue.

Tasted at 50-59 degrees on the IR temp gun. Eisch glassware. Clear magenta with violet edges in the “breathable” glass, there were gentle aromas of dark plum and…pretty much that’s it. Fleet and fluffy on the palate followed with a 3 second tail of plum, black pepper, tart black cherry, licorice, and oak.

Alcohol: 13.5%. First harvest date: September 11, 2007. Fermented on skins for 6-10 days with 10% whole berries. Aged 12-14 months in 60% French and 40% USA oak. Includes 6% grenache and 5% viognier to add bouquet complexity, depth, and nuance. TA 0.55%. pH 3.78. Columbia Valley AVA (Horse Heaven Hills for balance and complexity, Wahluke Slope for texture and body, and Yakima Valley for aromatics). Rated: 87. Paid: $7.99 (sale). Value: $9. Music pairing: “Let’s Think About Living” by Bob Luman. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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